May 12, 2019

What to expect from a home inspection


2019 NETAR President

Homeowners who want to sell their home must give buyers a disclosure of the property’s known defects. It is the LAW. Even if you qualify for an exemption to completing the state mandated disclosure, you must disclose known defects and/or adverse facts about the home to potential buyers. Most of the time, the disclosure is made on a form provided by the Tennessee Realtors® to help owners check off the requirement. It is a detailed document, and adds a few more sheets of paper to the growing stack of real estate transaction paperwork.

Once the offer is fully negotiated and ratified, the next step is the home inspection, lest the buyer does not want a professional opinion. All inspections are performed at buyer’s expense unless otherwise negotiated, since the buyer benefits most from the service. Even if the buyer negotiates to accept the property “as-is”, they can have an inspection for informational purposes. Nothing precludes a seller from obtaining a pre-listing inspection, but do not be surprised if the buyer opts to acquire their own.

Here is what to expect from a pre-purchase home inspection from a certified inspector.

A visual inspection and written report or checklist on the condition of the home’s primary systems. The inspection includes the heating and cooling system, electrical and plumbing systems, attic and its visual insulation, walls, ceilings floors, doors, and windows, roof, foundation, basement, patio, decks, garage and exterior grounds are also inspected. Be sure to read your inspector’s agreement to see what is included.  As the purchaser of the property, you have the right to be present while the inspection is being conducted.

The time it takes to complete an inspection will depend upon the size of the property.  The process is thorough and relies on standards set by the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors and the State Standards for Tennessee Home Inspectors Licensing Program. It is not a pass or fail system, but one to inform the consumer of the marginal and defective components found in the home.

Inspectors will be familiar with the local building code, but the home inspection is not a code check. Its goal is to evaluate and describe the physical condition of the home at the time of the inspection. Items in need of repair or replacement will be summarized in the report, but whether or not any of the items are addressed is up to what the buyer and seller agree to in their negotiations. As with all negotiations, there is virtually an endless list of options.

Here is a basic checklist of best practices for hiring a home inspector.

  • Check their license status. Tennessee’s Home Inspector Licensing Program was enacted in 2005 to ensure that only qualified persons are licensed home inspectors and that those inspectors extend a professional and educated opinion on the condition of the homes they inspect.
  • Are they certified by the American Society of Home Inspectors?
  • How long have they been an inspector and the number of inspections performed?
  • Understand the inspection fee up front. Costs normally range from $250 to $750 depending on the location of the property, the type and size property and the scope of the inspection. Some buyers get several cost estimates before hiring an inspector.
  • Ask for references, including some previous customers, and talk to them.
  • Discuss in advance how long you will have to wait for the report after the inspection is completed.

Finally, while you should expect a checklist of the weak points turned up during the inspection and options you may have to resolve the issues, it is not uncommon to see the report include some of the property’s strong points.  Last not confuse an appraisal with a home inspection.  They are not one in the same.